My eyes were opened to the PLC concept in 2001 when I first attended a PLC conference and heard Rick DuFour and Bob Eaker speak in Toronto. Since then, I’ve been passionate and committed to the work—so seeing other people who have that same passion and enthusiasm is just AWESOME! It is exciting to be at a conference and watch the participants’ eyes light up with ideas. It is exciting to watch participants taking it all in. It is exciting to watch participants begin thinking about how to take this all back to their schools or districts. The struggle sometimes is with the how. How do we even begin this monumental task of taking all that you learned back to your colleagues and/or supervisors?
Below are some of the major themes that every school and district must use to assess and create a plan for how the work will actually be carried out. Obviously this is not a journey that will be accomplished in a year—or ever for that matter. This is an ongoing journey where the work will always be there, but the major themes below give you a starting point as you prepare your implementation plan.
I would recommend going through the major themes with your school or district leadership team and using the questions below as discussion starters. From there, you can create a three-year plan together, in collaboration, as a team. That plan should outline what specific major theme of establishing a PLC culture you want to focus on year by year, over the next three years. You may end up spending an entire year on just one or two of the themes, and that’s okay (for example, grading may be a year-long topic, and building teacher leaders is another big one that may take several months, and so on). Every school and every district will be at a different point in their PLC-implementation journey, which is why assessing your current situation is the most important first step. Good luck!
- What does your faculty really believe about students?
- What can you commit to as a school team?
- What kinds of responsibilities do your department chairs have?
- What strategies have you used to build your teacher leaders?
- What does a typical leadership team meeting agenda/minutes look like?
Focus on Learning
- What practices support student learning?
- What practices hinder student learning?
- What plan can you create to resolve the hindrances?
- What processes have been set up at your school for PLCs?
- What templates are used?
- When and how often are PLC meetings held?
- How are norms created and held accountable?
- What does the course syllabus look like?
Curriculum (what do we want students to know?)
- What are your lesson plan expectations?
- How do PLCs plan and record their plans for the day/week?
- How are power standards defined and used?
- How are pre-tests or checkpoints used?
Assessment/Data (how do we know they learned it?)
- How are common assessments defined?
- How do PLCs create common assessments?
- How do PLCs collect and share the data?
- What data is collected?
- How do PLCs write their smart goals?
- How are admins involved in the data talk process?
- What are your grading practices and are they set up for student learning?
RTI (what do we do when students don’t learn it?)
- What does your RTI pyramid look like?
- What programs do you have in place to help struggling students?
- What does re-teaching and recovery look like at your school?
Enrichment (what do we do when students do learn it?)
- What does your advanced programs look like?
- How do you enrich the curriculum?
- How are students identified and placed in advanced classes?
- Where is your school on the PLC continuum?
- How are you celebrating your successes?
- What aspects/layers will be the focus going into the following year?